Commanding Palates


Heather Walker

As President’s Day approaches, I’m always intrigued to read about what past presidents enjoyed eating.  There are some very interesting tidbits of information regarding presidential palates, and I’m always amazed at how even some of our earliest presidents had an affinity for all things food.  For instance*:

Mount Vernon, the famous ranch where George Washington lived during his presidency, was completely self-sustaining. “It had extensive farms, orchards, meat preservation facilities (to make ham, bacon, etc.) and animals.” First Lady, Martha Washington even had her own cookbook, titled the “Booke of Cookery.”

Dwight Eisenhower, as a General in the Army, approved the use of special spices that the mess hall chef had purchased out of his own pocket, in order to make the Army food taste better.  The mess hall chef, Sgt. Marty Snyder, went on to cook for military commanders such as Winston Churchill and Charles De Gaulle.  He then eventually opened a restaurant in New York City, where he published a hand-written beef stew recipe by none other than his mentor, President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Thomas Jefferson and John F. Kennedy were aficionados of French Cuisine, especially Boef a la mode, which we know here in the US as pot roast, or braised beef stew.

So, in seeing the presidential popularity for slow-cooked beef, French cuisine, and hearty stews, on behalf of, I’m sharing my recipe for Raspberry Boef Bourguignon.  It’s a delicious, traditional French beef stew, cooked in a red wine or “burgundy” sauce.  I used the traditional root vegetables and fresh herbs to accompany the dish, but I also added some sweet, red raspberries into the sauce to give it a hint of romantic, fruity flavor.  I slow cooked this using a cast iron dutch oven, which keeps the recipe authentic to how our presidential ancestors would have made it.

Serve this with some buttery, roasted rosemary potatoes or a freshly baked San Francisco Sourdough bread. I can guarantee you’ll have everyone clamoring for a second and third helping!

Raspberry Boef Bourguignon

Prep Time: 30 minutes / Cook Time: 4 hours / Servings: 6-8


Recommended Equipment: Gunter-Wilhelm 7” Santoku Knife, Gunter-Wilhelm Butcher’s Cleaver or Gunter-Wilhelm 7” Asian Cleaver, 8 quart cast iron dutch oven


  • 6 slices thick cut bacon, chopped
  • 3.5 lbs. beef chuck roast, cut into 2” cubes
  • 8 oz. Baby Bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cups rainbow carrots, peeled and sliced on a bias
  • 5-6 Cipolline onions, peeled and quartered
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced on a bias
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2-3 large sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 12 oz. fresh, red raspberries
  • 4 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • salt and pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. In an 8 quart dutch oven, heat the chopped bacon to high heat.  Cook for 7-10 minutes until the bacon is cooked through and the fat is redered.  Drain the bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside.  Reduce heat to medium and keep the drippings hot in the pot.
  3. Dry the cubed beef with a paper towel and sprinkle with 2 tbsp. flour.  Add it to the heated bacon drippings.  Season with salt and pepper and brown the beef for about 3 minutes on each side.  Transfer the browned beef to a separate plate or bowl.
  4. Add the carrots and celery to the remaining bacon drippings.  Season with salt and pepper and brown the vegetables for 2-3 minutes on each side.
  5. Pour 1 cup of beef broth into the dutch oven with the veggies and deglaze the pot with a wooden spoon.  Add the bacon and beef back in to the dutch oven along with the garlic, the remaining beef broth, tomato paste, thyme, bay leaf, red wine and raspberries.  Stir until combined, cover, and place the pot in the oven to cook for about 3 hours at 325 degrees, until the beef falls apart when pierced with a fork.
  6. In the last 10 minutes of cooking, melt the butter in a large skillet on medium heat.  Add the onions and mushrooms.  Season with salt and pepper and cook on medium heat for 7-10 minutes until the onions are translucent and the mushrooms are browned.
  7. Remove the pot from the oven, stir in the browned mushrooms and onions.  Skim the excess fat from the top of the stew if desired. Remove the thyme stems and the bay leaf before serving.

Note: If you wish to thicken the broth before serving (I don’t think it’s necessary), you can create a roux by heating and whisking an additional 3 tbsp. butter and 2 tbsp. flour in a small saucepan.  Once the mixture is smooth, add it to the stew and heat the stew on medium heat on the stovetop, stirring constantly until the broth thickens.

*Presidential sources and quotes from: